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Sometimes, credit cards can be a lifesaver when it comes to handling major expenses that your bank account can’t cover at the moment. But what do you do if you find yourself in such a situation without a credit card ready to go?

While you can always apply for a new credit card online at any time, it can often take anywhere from 7 - 10 business days for your new card to arrive. That’s why many major issuers have now begun offering instant-use virtual credit cards.

Is there a card that I can use right away?

Happy girl is wishing by raising up fist and holding credit cards on blue background

Many major credit card companies have begun issuing instant-use credit cards that you can use as soon as you’re approved for an account. Some cards now come with features that will give you instant access, whether it be through generating a virtual card or the ability to connect your account to a virtual wallet, like Google Pay.

What banks give you an instant virtual card?

technology banking space holding card business

You may also be able to get a credit card you can use right away from other major issuers like Chase, Citi, and Capital One. But these issuers only offer instant use options for certain cards or under more specific circumstances, while we’ll cover more below.

What cards give you an instant card number?

If you’re looking for a credit card you can use before it arrives in the mail, then read on! We’ll break down the instant use policies of several major issuers, including which of their cards you can use immediately after approval.

American Express

chart and amex logo

If you’re looking for an instant-use credit card, then American Express may be the way to go, as they are among the only issuers we came across who offer instant access to all their credit cards.

Eligible customers, who Amex defines as those who they are able to authenticate, will receive a secure email link to their Instant Card Number right after being approved. Simply add your card number to one of a number of digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Paypal, Amazon Pay, and more.

You’ll then be able to start spending online or anywhere else virtual wallets are accepted. Whether you’re looking to book a trip or cover any other expenses, Amex is a great option if you need an influx of credit fast.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Amex’s Blue Cash Preferred credit card offers plenty of great perks on everyday purchases. You’ll enjoy a $0 intro annual fee of the first year, after which a $95 annual fee will apply. (See Rates & Fee)

The card also offers a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months after you open your account on both balance transfers and purchases alike. After that, the card is subject to a variable APR of 19.24% - 29.99%.

One of the Blue Cash Preferred card’s biggest draws is its generous rewards program. When you spend in certain categories, you’ll earn cash back that can be redeemed in the form of statement credits.

  • 6% cash back on up to $6,000 worth of purchases at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1%)
  • 6% on certain U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. gas stations and on select transit options
  • 1% cash back on any other purchase

If you use your new card to spend at least $3,000 on purchases within the first 6 months after approval, you’ll also enjoy the chance to earn a $250 statement credit.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

If you’re looking for a credit card that offers a solid rewards program with no annual fee, then check out Amex’s Blue Cash Everyday® Card. Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months after you open your account and a variable APR of 19.24% - 29.99% thereafter. (See Rates & Fee)

The Blue Cash Everyday Card offers the chance to earn cash back in the form of statement credits on a variety of everyday spending categories.

  • 3% cash back on up to $6,000 worth of purchases in U.S. supermarkets each year (1% after that)
  • 3% cash back for purchases made at online retailers each year (1% after that)
  • 3% cash back on up to $6,000 worth of gas station purchases in the U.S. each year (then 1%)
  • 1% on any other eligible purchases you make with your card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

While it may come with a hefty $695 annual fee, the Amex Platinum Card offers plenty of perks for the right user (See Rates & Fee). With a 21.24% - 29.24% variable APR on Pay Over Time purchases, the card offers new users the chance to earn at least 80,000 bonus rewards points when they spend at least $8,000 on purchases within the first 6 months.

While the card’s full list of perks is definitely worth exploring, some of its highlights include:

The chance to earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on up to $500,000 worth of flights each year when you book either through American Express Travel or directly through airlines.

  • You’ll also earn 5x the Rewards points on selected prepaid hotel bookings through Amex Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings (requires a minimum 2 night stay) with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 worth of monthly Uber Cash credits each year.
  • $240 worth of statement credits each year toward select digital streaming services. Enrollment Required

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card is a great choice for users who’d prefer to earn rewards points in select dining categories. Available for a $250 annual fee and 21.24% - 29.24% variable APR on Pay Over Time purchases, the Gold Card offers users the chance to earn rewards points that can be redeemed for statement credit on the following categories. (See Rates & Fee)

  • 4X points on up to $25,000 annually on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets
  • 4x points on purchases at restaurants around the world
  • 3x points on flights booked either through Amex Travel or directly through airlines
  • 1x points on other eligible purchases

New users who spend at least $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of membership can also earn at least 60,000 intro bonus points on eligible purchases.

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card

If you’re looking for a nice mix of travel and dining rewards, then the Amex Green Card may be for you. With an annual fee of $150 and a variable 20.99% - 28.99% APR on Pay Over Time Purchases, the card offers several introductory offers for new users. (See Rates & Fee)

When you spend at least $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months, you can earn up to 60,000 bonus points and a 20% statement credit on select transit and travel purchases. You can also earn points in the following spending categories:

  • 3x points on travel purchases, whether booked through Amex or third-party sites
  • 3x points on transit purchase
  • 3x points on purchases at restaurants around the world and on U.S. food delivery or takeout options
  • 1x points on other purchases

_All information about this card has been collected independently by Surfky_


chase bank

While Chase offers a number of credit cards that you can add to your digital wallet right away, there are a few important conditions and exceptions. At the moment, only Chase’s Visa credit cards are eligible for instant access, so there are quite a few cards that you won’t be able to add to your digital wallet until they arrive.

These include not only Mastercard credit cards but also Business cards, as well as those associated with brands like Amazon, Disney, or certain hotel chains. The good news is that some of Chase’s most popular rewards cards do qualify.

Once approved, you’ll be able to add your card to digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay and start spending instantly. Here are some of our favorite Chase cards that qualify for instant spending.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Available for a $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a variable APR of 21.49% - 28.49%. New users can also earn 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when they spend at least $4,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening a new account.

Redeem points for cash, hotels, or airfare and earn bonuses each time you spend in the following categories.

  • 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, (not counting purchases eligible for the $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit)
  • 3x points on dining purchases, select streaming subscriptions, and online grocery purchases
  • 2x points on all other travel purchases

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is kind of like a supercharged version of the Sapphire Preferred. With a $550 annual fee and 22.49% - 29.49% variable APR, the Sapphire Reserve is backed with benefits for the right customers.

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • After the $300 annual credit, you’ll earn 10x the points on hotels and rental cars booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and 5x points on flights booked through Chase.
  • 10x points on purchases made through the Chase Dining program.
  • 3x points on restaurant purchases, takeout, and select delivery services

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

If you prefer a card with no annual fee and plenty of great perks, check out the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card. You’ll also enjoy a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months, then a variable 20.49% - 29.24% APR, ‘

You’ll earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards, travel, statement credits, or cash when you spend in the following categories.

  • 5% when you book travel through Chase
  • 3% on dining, including certain delivery and takeout services
  • 3% on purchases made at drugstores
  • 1.5% on every other purchase

Capital One

capital one app

Some issuers may offer instant-use credit cards, even if they aren’t super upfront about how or if you’ll qualify. Capital One is a good example, as the issuer’s website hints that some users may be able to access their online account details and create a temporary virtual card before their physical card arrives.

The company goes on to advise users who are hoping to use their new cards right away to get pre-approved and stick to applying for cards targeted toward users in their credit score range. But for the most part, Capital One seems a little hesitant to guarantee that everyone will be provided access to their new account details before their physical card arrives.

If you’ve recently been approved for a Capital One card, you can check to see if your account details are available by signing into your account, either online or in the Capital One Mobile app.

You should see an option titled “Get Your Virtual Card” either under your balance or under the “recent transactions” tab. There is, however, one Capital One card that you can use immediately.

Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®

Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®

Designed in partnership with (you guessed it) Walmart, the Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® is available for no annual fee and a 17.99% or 29.49% variable APR.

While you can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted, it comes with perks designed specifically for Walmart shoppers.

  • 5% cash back on purchases made at Walmart.com
  • 2% cash back on purchases made at Walmart stores and fuel stations
  • 2% cash back on restaurant and travel purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases


citibank front

Citi is yet another issuer that’s a little less than clear on its credit card instant access policy. For this reason, if lack of instant access is a deal breaker, then you may be better off going with a card from an issuer like American Express.

But if not, it may be possible to access your new Citi card’s details before your physical card arrives. In some cases, particularly if you’re instantly approved, you’ll see an option marked ‘Get Card Number Today.”

If so, click on it and copy down your card’s virtual number and details, but this is usually the only chance you’ll have to get them before your physical card arrives. As with Capital One, however, there is one card with a notable exception.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Citi’s Costco Anywhere Visa card is available for a 20.24% variable APR and no annual fee for Costco members. Designed to be used anywhere Visa is accepted, it offers perks such as:

  • 4% Costco cash rewards on up to $7,000 of EV charging and gas purchases each year (then 1%)
  • 3% on restaurant and select travel purchases
  • 2% on all Costco purchases
  • 1% on all other purchases

In order to gain access to your card before it arrives, you may want to apply through Costco customer service. They should be able to provide you with a temporary card.

Can I use my credit card before it physically arrives?

adult man doing online shopping during a leisure day at home. young man buying clothes online

In many instances, you can indeed use an instant-use credit card before you receive your physical card in the mail. Instant-use cards are particularly common among credit cards associated with certain airlines, stores, or hotels.

But some issuers allow you to start using your new card right away, even if it’s simply designed for everyday purchases. While some issuers are pretty generous about allowing new users instant access, others only offer the feature for certain cards or only offer it to certain customers.

What is an instant approval credit card?

Close-up of indian businessman hand giving business card.

It’s also important to note that an instant-use card is not the same thing as an instant approval card. An instant approval credit card is simply one that you can be approved for very quickly, usually in a matter of minutes.

But the quick sign-up process doesn’t always equal the ability to start spending right away. Even after you’re approved, you may be required to wait until your physical card arrives to activate and use it.

What cards give you an instant card number?

closeup credit card number

While each issuer has its own policy about instant card usage, American Express offers the most generous. Eligible customers will receive an instant card number for all Amex cards as soon as they’ve been approved for an account.


As you can see, it’s possible to get an instant use credit card, particularly through issuers like Amex. Just make sure you check the policy of the issuer you intend to apply with beforehand to check eligibility options.

For Rates & Fees of:
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Click Here
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Click Here
- The Platinum Card® from American Express Click Here
- American Express® Gold Card Click Here
- American Express® Green Card Click Here

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply

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The responses below are not provided, commissioned, reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any financial entity or advertiser. It is not the advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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